Privacy and cookies

Our use of your data, cookies, and external services: what you should know, and how to opt out if you want to.

Summary: We care a lot about our users’ privacy. We provide details below, and we try our hardest to look after the private data that we hold. Like many other websites, we sometimes use cookies and Google Analytics to help us make our websites better. These tools are very common and used by many other sites, but they do have privacy implications, and as a charity concerned with socially positive uses of the internet, we think it’s important to explain them in full. If you don’t want to share your browsing activities on mySociety’s sites with other companies, you can adjust your usage or install opt-out browser plugins.

Privacy

This is our privacy policy (sorry it is so long, but it is quite precise):

  • We will pass on your message, name, email and postal address and (optionally) telephone number either direct to the politician(s) you write to, or to a trusted intermediary (such as a council democratic services department) who will then pass it on.
  • We will never sell or otherwise distribute any information you give WriteToThem to organisations or individuals outside of mySociety, except in the following circumstances:
    • when required to do so by UK law;
    • if you come to the site via louder.org.uk, we are given a unique ID that we pass back to them when you confirm your message. If you were logged in to louder.org.uk, they will know you have sent a message (but nothing else).
  • We will store your IP address and the pages that you visited whilst on the site as part of our site logs. We keep these for one month.
  • We will never keep permanent copies of the letters you write to send to your representatives, and will not look at your messages unless there is a problem with the operation of the site which requires us to do so.
  • We will store the content of your message for four weeks after it was dispatched. Then it is automatically deleted. We keep a copy in backup files for one additional week. We need to keep it for this long to monitor and prevent abuse of the service. It also means we can include a copy of your message in the email which asks if your representative has responded yet.
  • If delivery of a message fails for a week, we keep the message content for a further 8 weeks. This gives us time to diagnose the problem. We sometimes need the content so we can resend the message.
  • We keep records of names and addresses for longer periods in order to provide an audit trail if a representative queries the accuracy of the statistics on response rates we produce. We will never give these out to a representative on any other occasion than when you send them your message.
  • If you contact mySociety via our support email address we reserve the right to keep your support message indefinitely, especially if you say something nice about us.
  • We use cookies to track how people use mySociety sites, and how they move between them. We do this only to make our sites work better, and we will never give away the data that we collect in this way.
  • We will never send you unsolicited email except: a) One survey email and up to one reminder two weeks after you send your message. b) In the rare case that a politician asks us to pass a message on their behalf to survey respondents in their constituency/ward who say they have not heard back from them.

Cookies

To make our service easier or more useful, we sometimes place small data files on your computer or mobile phone, known as cookies; many websites do this. We use this information to measure how people use the website so we can improve it and make sure it works properly. Below, we list the cookies and services that this site can use.

Measuring website usage (Google Analytics)

We use Google Analytics to collect information about how people use this site. We do this to make sure it’s meeting its users’ needs and to understand how we could do it better. Google Analytics stores information such as what pages you visit, how long you are on the site, how you got here, what you click on, and information about your web browser. IP addresses are masked (only a portion is stored) and personal information is only reported in aggregate. We do not allow Google to use or share our analytics data for any purpose besides providing us with analytics information, and we recommend that any user of Google Analytics does the same.

If you’re unhappy with data about your visit to be used in this way, you can install the official browser plugin for blocking Google Analytics.

The cookies set by Google Analytics are as follows:

NameTypical ContentExpires
_gaUnique anonymous visitor ID2 years

Google’s Official Statement about Analytics Data

“This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”). Google Analytics uses “cookies”, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States . Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the website, compiling reports on website activity for website operators and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google’s behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google. You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of this website. By using this website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.”

More general information on how third party services work

Credits

Bits of wording taken from the gov.uk cookies page (under the Open Government Licence).